Concerns: Ted McCarthy
PROMINENT solicitor Ted McCarthy has expressed concern that the criminal courts are being used by some people to ‘influence’ family law proceedings.
He made his comments during the case of a man who was accused of breaching the terms of a safety order which had been granted to his former partner.
During a contested hearing at Limerick District Court, Judge Marian O’Leary was told the defendant and the woman have two children together and that access proceedings are ongoing in the family law courts.
In her evidence the woman said the defendant threatened to “get her” and told her “you’re dead” around an hour after he dropped their daughter off at her home on the northside of the city on August 9, last.
The woman said she contacted gardai a short time later as she feared for her safety and was afraid her former partner would return.
The man was arrested a short time later and was detained in custody overnight pending a court appearance the following morning.
In his evidence, he denied making the threats and said he not speak to the woman claiming she would not come to the door.
While the agreed arrangement was that the children would be handed over at a nearby fast food restaurant, the defendant said he called to his former partner’s home as she was uncontactable on the day of the alleged offence.
He said he called to a local garda station earlier in the day to seek advice as he was concerned his former partner would “pull something like this”.
Cross examining the complainant, Mr McCarthy put it to her that she fabricated the allegations “to gain advantage” in the family law courts as she was “not happy” that his client had been awarded access.
“You are using the criminal law to blacken his name,” he said adding: “You saw an opportunity to make a complaint in relation to some made up threats you say you received.”
The woman denied this insisting the man had threatened her on the date in question.
After considering legal sumbissions, Judge O’Leary dismissed the charge saying she was not satisifed the State had proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Before delivering her ruling, the judge rejected Mr McCarthy’s earlier’s assertion that the criminal courts are being used to influence the family law courts.
“I don’t think you can make such sweeping statements,” she said insisting that each case is decided on its own merits.